My six-year-old son, Coby, played in his first little league game this past week. As I sat and cheered him on, I considered all the important safety issues to consider – not just for kids playing baseball, but for all sports and athletics. Here are a few I came up with:
1. Coaches and trainers should teach proper technique and review it regularly. Make sure there is up to date and properly maintained safety equipment. Helmets, face gear and athletic supporters for boys must fit properly and be worn without fail. Consider protective eye wear and knee or shin pads. Shoes should have rubber spikes – not metal, and consider using safety baseballs (balls that are slightly softer to reduce risk of injury).
2. Environmental issues also must be considered. While my wife dressed Coby in a coat over his uniform for the first games and practices – we all know that in Chicago – the temps will eventually rise, and parents and coaches will need to encourage players to stay well hydrated with lots of water. Game after game gets played, and the condition of the fields must be maintained. Repairing holes and uneven surfaces, removing any debris and ensuring that there are safety screens to protect the dugouts and other spectators are essential. Summer storms can pop up, bringing severe weather and lightening. If any lightening strikes are detected within six miles, play should be stopped until 30 minutes after the last lightning. Plans should be in place to clear the field and have people and players move to an identified safe area – NOT under the bleachers.
3. Emergency preparation. Each team and parent should have an emergency plan in place to handle any significant head injuries – especially head or neck trauma. A basic first aid kit – with ice packs, band aids, gauze, ace bandages and any other equipment should be prepared ahead of time. More significant concerns – head and eye injuries and heat stroke should be evaluated and treating in the closest ER as soon as possible. Milder and more chronic injuries can be treated using the RICE rule – Rest, Ice, Compression and Evaluation by your pediatrician.
Find more information about concussions in a previous post by Dr. Aronson: Sports-Related Concussions